How to Become Less Addicted to Your Phone

You see it all the time: young couples at a nice restaurant paying more attention to their phones than their partner; a mother walking with a stroller down the street and in the stroller, the child who can’t be more than 4-years-old is playing on a tablet; drivers slamming on their breaks just in time to avoid the biker crossing at the wrong time because both were on their phones; every single person at a concert is filming the performer rather than living in the moment.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I am no Luddite. I love technology just as much as the next person because it really does make life easier. Can you imagine trying to type a 10-page paper on a typewriter and having to search through a physical dictionary for all the words you don’t know? I can’t even remember the last time I touched a physical dictionary. So no, this article isn’t me preaching to you about how our addiction to our devices is ruining mankind (although it is) or how I never ever check my phone first thing in the morning or last thing before I go to sleep (because sometimes I do). This is for me to bring this addiction to your attention and tell you what you can do to combat it.

As much as I love to see what my friends are up to on Snapchat or scroll through my Instagram feed to see what wanderlust locations the people I follow are travelling through, I also love to go run around the park with my dog or hang out with my family completely undistracted by screens.

According to this Elite Daily article, a study conducted by Nokia revealed that people check their phones every six minutes or 150 times per day! Is that not insane? We’ve become slaves to the very devices that are supposed to make our lives easier, more convenient and productive and give us time to truly experience life and the people with whom we share our Earth. Instead, we succumb to the constant bells, chimes and bird tweets to alert us that we have a message or notification which we immediately view and respond to. I find it somewhat depressing that so much of our lives are devoted to these little rectangular devices that so 70 percent of people say they can’t live without.

Just like anything else, moderation is the key to striking a good balance and healthy relationship with your devices. Here are a few tips to help you move towards that:

  1. Decide how much of your day-to-day life really requires the use of your phone. If you’re a college student, you’ll probably find that a lot of your homework requires the use of your computer. If you’re a delivery driver, you probably find yourself using your phone’s GPS capabilities pretty often. That’s perfectly fine, but you have to realize how much you really need to use your device versus how much you’re using it as a habit of self-distraction.

  2. Start small. Jumping in both feet first to anything isn’t often the most effective strategy because you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Deciding to do a month long digital detox right off the back is really ambitious and probably won’t work out in the end. Instead, take baby steps. Start by leaving your phone at home when you take your dog for a walk or leaving it in your bag during class when you should be paying attention anyway.

  3. Find other things to do that will replace the time you spend on your phone. You have to realize what really matters to you: whether that be nurturing your relationships with family and friends, bettering yourself or getting better grades in school. Take those goals and make something of them, starting by not allowing your devices to distract you from them.

  4. Reward yourself. My friend just told me about this app, Pocket Points that allows you to rack up points when you open the app and then lock your phone. It only works when you’re on your campus, but it’s a great place to start. The longer you keep your phone locked, the more points you earn and the more free stuff you have the opportunity to get, some of which includes free food, and I know that’s a great motivator if there ever was one.